Read Part 1
7th grade band
So, there we were, four of us on the percussion line: two boys and two girls. Randal was tall with floppy blond hair. Daniel was big and bulky, weighing as much as a large 9th grader. Jessica had freckles all over her face and weighed just as much as Daniel. I was small, skinny and self conscious of my growing breasts. We became good friends, especially at the beginning.
I learned about all sorts of instruments: marimba, xylophone, timpani, chimes, scraper, snare, bass, toms, triangle and more! Naturally, I was good at the marimba because it had keys like a piano. Randal was good at it, too, because he took piano, as well. He was a little bit of a show-off. I remember his floppy hair opened up and down like an umbrella when he played fast.
I wasn't interested in anything that reminded me of the piano. Despite all the lessons I took, I didn't consider myself a pianist. That was my older sister, who spent hours playing scales on our home piano. She accompanied nearly everyone in choir and sight-read all the hymns at church. Her posture was perfect, and she never struggled to keep her pinky down.
When it came time to choose which instruments we wanted to play for our upcoming band concerts, I stared longingly at the set in the back of the room. Only 9th graders were allowed to play it. Our options at 7th grade seemed limited to me. The snare was the most coveted, next to the large crash cymbal. I was lucky enough once to play the timpani, a large version of a traditional set (without cymbals), but I wasn't allowed to play it all the time. I had to give the other 7th grade percussionists an opportunity.
The crash cymbal was fun, but I dropped it once during rehearsal and Jessica took it over because she was bigger and could handle the weight. I might be exaggerating my memories, I admit, but I'm sure I played the triangle more times than anyone else. I don't ever remember seeing Randal with the triangle, and when I think about Daniel, I see him towering over the large bass drum for every song we played.
Pretty soon, I stopped hanging out with any of the other 7th grade percussionists. I made really good friends with a girl who played the clarinet, and I almost wished that I had had to use my back-up so I could spend more time talking and laughing with her. The girls who played flutes were nice. I made friends with some trombone and trumpet players, even though I thought it was disgusting when they blew their spit from their instruments onto the band floor.
Band verses Choir (again)
I made more friends in choir than I ever did in band (though I still talked with the girl who played the clarinet at lunch). At the end of the year, my choir teacher invited me to try-out for a girls' small singing group. I did and became second soprano, which spilled into my 9th grade. At the end of that year, all my choir friends were trying out for the high school choir, so I did, too. I was one of three sophomores who made the junior choir! What an honor!
My biggest regret
My heart told me to take band so I could play the drums, but I knew my choir friends would be disappointed if I didn't join the junior choir, so as a sophomore, I sang with the juniors, which sounds cooler than it actually was. The teacher was strict, the songs were harder (and often in other languages), and I was forced to sing alto, which I had never done before. We wore long green robes like on Sister-Act that were itchy and hot. All my friends were in the sophomore choir, and I felt terribly alone and shy.
The only joy I found each day I had to go to choir was the idea of seeing Mark Nelson, a tall handsome bass who stood 3 people away from me. Sometimes one of those 3 people would be absent, so he'd be closer, and I could smell his cologne.
Mark Nelson wasn't my friend. He flirted with other girls and hardly saw me. Once, I dropped a pencil and he picked it up for me. He smiled, and I squeaked out a "thanks." I stayed in choir for the rest of my high school experience.
My friends and I attended every football game, and I stared longingly at the kids playing drum line. I was too proud at the time to admit it, but I was wrong for staying in choir. It became the greatest regret of my life.
Read Part 3
I'm what you'd call a "hobbyist" drummer.